From The New York Shitty Inbox: The Sweater Lofts Get DOB’d

August 12, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

DOBBIS239Banker

Anonymous writes (in an email entitled “DOB is SO STUPID”):

“NO VISIBLE MEANS. OF EGRESS INTO BUILDING ” are you fucking KIDDING me?

239bankerst

I guess they didn’t notice the front door(s).* This is sort of funny given the tenants of this building clearly have.

penske

As Kurt Vonnegut would say:

So it goes…

Miss Heather

*And then of course there is the freight elevator where Max Stark’s funky bunch were thoughtful enough to post the plans for this hotel these residential lofts.

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Signs of Life at The Sweater Factory Lofts?

December 28, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

The tipster who took the above photograph writes:

Open? Vacate notices removed and door propped open. There’s even someone shoveling sidewalk out front.

New York Shitty “glass half full” analysis:

At least they are cleaning the sidewalk.

New York Shitty “glass half empty” analysis:

There is still a Vacate Order on this property.

Whoops.

Miss Heather

Reader Comment Du Jour: Advice For Someone DOB’d From The Sweater Factory Lofts?

October 13, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

239bankerMost folks (myself included) would consider the evacuation of 239 Banker Street to be yesterday’s news. However, when the following comment came to my attention today I simply had to post it here.  Action writes:

The vacate happened 3 days before I was supposed to move in. I’m working with Brooklyn Civil Court to start the process to get my money back. Does anyone know of alternative routes to take? Maybe a class action case?

I do not profess to be an attorney (or even playing one on t.v.). Although I have some tenant-landlord court experience Action’s problem is way off my radar. Does anyone have some advice or thoughts for Action? If so please leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Miss Heather

BREAKING: The Sweater Factory Lofts Gets DOB’d Again!

September 24, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Remember the Sweater Factory Lofts?

SFLscreencap

You know, the building at 239 Banker Street that is zoned as a hotel but is actuality being used as residential space? The one which despite being fined $5,000 for violating a long standing Stop Work Order kept on working anyway? Day and night. Well, something very interesting came to pass there this afternoon.

vacate1

Anonymous writes (at 3:19 p.m.):

Breaking news! That building next to what was studio B is being served vacated notice right now….

ousted

Unhappy residents on an unpaid vacate(ion). I’m sure Curbed will be interested. Building dept guys didn’t like me snapping pics.

WOW. I wonder how my buddy Max took the news? Just under two weeks ago he sold the Greenpoint Hotel for a paltry $3.5 millionand now this!?! I’m not too sure what motivated the Department of Buildings to issue a vacate order but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say non-compliance with fire code had something to do with it.

Miss Heather

UPDATE, 5:27 p.m.: Apparently the Red Cross has been brought in to help displaced tenants from this building (pets and all) find a place to hang their respective hats. Per a reader:

The DOB showed up today, I think, around 2, and cleared the whole building. There’s an order to vacate posted on the front (“occupancy is perilous to life”), and a  (new?) stop work order plastered on the front door, plus about a 6 yellow sheets that I didn’t get close enough to read, mainly because all the tenants were trying to read them. Probably on their arrival home from work. I do feel a bit bad for those who moved in without a clue what they were getting themselves into.*

The Red Cross is outside finding people places to live, the landlord is scurrying around, and the tenants are outside with suitcases and their cats in carriers.

Curious what finally caused the DOB to crack down?

UPDATE, 7:29 p.m.: Musings on ‘point offers his expertise:

It’s not a fire issue, FD would have been present. It’s probably a combo of two things: it’s a factory, not a residence and structural issues; the facade seems to be falling off.  The DOB is loathe to vacate solely because of occupancy contrary to the CO (see 475 Kent) but “perilous” is usually code for “we think it might fall down.” I haven’t been following this or researched it but that would be my guess. If it’s not, I wouldn’t want to be living at 475, because they’re just as susceptible to just such selective enforcement.

*I agree. The Red Cross should NOT be pressed into providing housing to individuals whose only mistake was not being informed consumers. This organization was not founded to assist people who have found themselves homeless as a result of a landlord’s malfeasance and this city’s ineptitude and/or lack of responsiveness when it comes to protecting and serving its citizens. The blame for should be laid where it is truly due:

  1. This city and the agencies charged with enforcing housing/building/fire code. Had the standing Stop Work Order on this property been enforced, this would never had happened.
  2. The landlord: for not obeying the the aforementioned Stop Work Order and having a disregard for the safety of his tenants.
  3. The real estate agents who leased out these “residential” lofts knowing full well that they are illegal and hazardous. Anything for a buck.

UPDATE, 11:44 p.m.: another reader sends photographs:

redcrossNYSsmall

DEREKLEE1

Maybe this one will stick?

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Greenpoint Lofts Going Rental…

February 25, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

and residential? The latter being the in the true north Brooklyn tradition (READ: illegal living space).

Not only are there “for lease” signs gracing the place formerly known as The Greenpoint Lofts but I have intriguing information from a tipster we’ll call Q. It started like this:

Hey Miss Heather,

My name is Q and I stumbled on your blog during my search for a work/live space.  I noticed you had quite a few entries about the place I was considering on 231 Norman…

This raised some serious bells and whistles for yours truly. You see, 231 Norman is by definition (and Certificate of Occupancy) a commercial space. Living is not allowed. I brought this and a number of other concerns to this person’s attention including (but not limited to):

1. The slew of complaints and violations for this property per the Department of Building’s Building Information System

2. What happened at 239 Banker Street). He/she replied:

…No, the property was not advertised as live/work space.  I saw it as a commercial property and I thought it would be possible to convert because the set up of this particular building seems to lend itself to that quite well.  On the other hand, I think there is a bit of wink-wink-nod kind of thing going on about the whole live/work set up.  I had a pretty big discussion with the realtor about putting in some amenities to make it a work/live set up and he informed me that there are people who have done that in the building.  In addition, he didn’t say that my plans to convert the place to make it more “livable” was anything illegal.  Of course, if one is to be a cynic, one could say that he is just eager to make a sale…

If 239 Banker has taught a number of unfortunate folks (and yours truly) an unpleasant lesson it is this: exercise due diligence. Do not take a broker’s word as gospel. This is not to suggest there are not reputable, ethical, dedicated brokers out there. There are— but there are many who are not. Especially in these lean economic times.

It goes without saying that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts and do not fool yourself into thinking that illegal conversions (even if given a blind eye by the developer and/or the real estate agents who represent his/her) cannot or will not effect you.

They can and will. The last I heard the residents of 239 Banker Street have yet to get back their deposit money. There’s a distinct possibility they never will. Don’t become a statistic.

Miss Heather

Greenpoint Photos Du Jour: If Anyone From The Department Of Buildings Is Reading This

July 26, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

CLOSED

If you want access to 239 Banker Street (AKA: The Sweater Lofts) today is your big day!

239banker72609

As of 4:40 this afternoon, Sunday, July 26, they were working.

freightelevator

As you can see the freight elevator is open!

plansNYS

What’s more, they were even thoughtful enough to post plans in said elevator for the edification of passersby. (Click on the above jpeg to see the “floor plans” for this “hotel” in their replete glory).

Hope this has been helpful,

Miss Heather

Greenpoint’s Newest Hostel!

July 13, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

6668claystreet11222

Anonymous writes:

Hi Heather

My Dad and his partner live around the corner from me. on Clay St, a few doors down from 66 Clay St (the former methadone clinic) which somehow overnight has turned into a $20 a night hostel .

Dad tells me that in the past week, there has been anywhere from 10-20; what appear to be teenagers milling around the front of the building and on a picnic bench in the parking lot, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, playing techno music dancing, having a general good time. Which no one should have a problem with, except the party doesn’t start until after 1AM and goes until sunrise

I’m going to try and spend a nice relaxing evening at Dad’s tonight in a bit of a stakeout to see if his complaints are valid

Ill keep you posted

What/if anything do you know about Marzili Hostel at 66 Clay St???

Hope you’re feeling better.

I’m operating at 90%, Anonymous (I’ll spare you the details about the other ten). Let’s start with what you have given me.

hostelscentralNYS

A web site purporting the “Marzilli” Hostel. (Click on the above image to enjoy the true hilarity).

C of O 6668 Clay street

Here’s the only Certificate of Occupancy on file. A residence for the mentally ill (a nice way of saying it was a methadone clinic). Which was , most assuredly, what it was.

Here’s what I saw today.

tent

Some dude hanging out under a tent.

As to who owns this property. That’s where it gets fun! Per ACRIS:

ACRIS1NYS

The log-tossing goes on and on. My money is on Max Stark.

The person who gave the Garden Spot the gift that keeps on giving: the Greenpoint Hotel— a flophouse pretending to be a bed and breakfast. (Click on the previous link, it’s a pisser!)

The person who gives us 239 Banker Street: a hotel being utilized as luxury apartments, e.g.; The Sweater Lofts. STOP WORK ORDERS BE DAMNED! Since when have, and I quote:

New kitchens and bathrooms

Stainless steel appliances

HUGE awesome roof with views

MANY LAYOUTS TO CHOOSE FROM!

the previous amenities had anything to do with a “hotel”?

SWOnys

Your eyes are not deceiving you: this property has 46 “DOB” violations, 36 open, 42 “ECB” violations 34 of which are still open and a STOP WORK ORDER. Unpaid penalties and non-compliance. And yet they advertise.

239banker

Why not call the person responsible for this advertisement, Liz, and ask her? It’s pretty clear the Department of Buildings is unwilling or unable to do anything.

Miss Heather

Last Gasp: DISGUSTING

June 22, 2009 ·
Filed under: Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, Greenpoint Magic 

239 Myrtle

Well, it did fall.

The previous slide show beautifully illustrates the ineptitude of the Department of Buildings (lest I have not made it clear already*) comes courtesy of Lesterhead. With public servants like this, who needs enemies?

You can peruse complaints leading up to this incident including these gems dating from May 1, 2009

crackkillsNYS

ECBviolation293myrtleavenue

by clicking here and here. And do check out Clinton Hill Blog for the full scoop.

Miss Heather

*And of course there is my personal favorite: 156 India Street. You were (and are) really on top of that one, Department of Buildings! Hence why the Red Cross was brought in.

P.S.: For those of you who are curious (or homeless as a consequence of this) 493 Myrtle Avenue LLC can be reached here.

And Now A Word From Our Assemblyman…

levinmailer2

 

Every evening the Mister checks the mail. And every evening he faithfully presents the latest campaign “material”— with commentary— for my delectation. I will refrain from publishing what he had to say about this one. No worries, I have plenty to say…

  • On the subject of “safer” streets: the last I checked a LOT of people— including not one, but TWO Transportation Chairs of Community Board 1— were quite vocal and pro-active about the manifold number of pedestrian/bicyclist safety and traffic woes hereabouts. Methinks both preceded Mr. Levin’s tenure as our City Councilman. While it is laudible that he helped push the matter, the fact of the matter is what has been accomplished thus far (there’s still a long way to go) is not, by any means, exclusively his handiwork. Plain and simple. Step back, Steve.
  • While I am on the subject of safer streets, Levin fails to note that it was under his watch that crime has increased in the 94th Precinct. Specifically, Greenpoint— his “home”. I attended the Community Council meetings. The idea of bringing back “block watchers” and “neighborhood watch groups” was presented by concerned citizens. Nonetheless, our City Councilman saw fit to do nothing until the problem got too much publicity to ignore. And even then meeting he conducted with Mr. Lentol conflicted with a Land Use Committee meeting regarding Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street. Hmm.
  • “Fairer Budget”: the concept of participatory budgeting is a good one. The way it is implemented, however, is not. Since (for all intents and purposes) all the outreach is done online, less affluent/tech-savvy citizens and communities are precluded from the process.
  • Greener Brooklyn: the repaved pathways and benches at McCarren are nice— but what about essentials like trash cans, port-o-lets and, yes, toilet seats? These may not be the stuff of excitement (or campaign mailers), but they are necessary. As for WNYC Transmitter Park: this has been on the table (so to speak) for decades. I know this because awesome ladies like Irene Klementowicz fought long and hard for it to happen. This is not Mr. Levin’s achievement by a long shot. Above all, calling a walkway, benches and one new park a “win” for his north Brooklyn constituency is laughable. Really.
  • Stronger education: while I find his rhetoric (especially as it pertains to charter schools) compelling, I have to wonder whose work he is taking credit for on this one?

In closing I have to say I am disappointed in Mr. Lentol for endorsing Steve Levin. Then again, I was also disappointed when I read this from the New York Times a couple months ago…

Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, Democrat of Brooklyn, sponsored a bill to retroactively extend tax breaks to developers who had converted old factories into luxury lofts. That bill passed the State Senate. Alas, it foundered in the Assembly. And that, he noted, broke the hearts of a few developers.

“Was this proposed tax break for these properties a good thing or not? I can’t say,” Mr. Lentol said. “I don’t have enough knowledge to say it’s a good thing or bad thing.”

And if legislators don’t ask, why should anyone else?

That is an excellent question.

NYCCFB

Why should we ask about luxury loft conversions of old factories? I have. Over and over. Mr. Levin attempted to assuage yours truly regarding 239 Banker Street some time ago:

Heather,

I have noticed your posts and am glad you continue to bring light to the issue of lofts in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The Loft Law was designed to protect residential tenants who, knowingly or unknowingly, moved into manufacturing or commercial spaces and it may grant rights for tenants to save and stabilize their housing and avoid the excessive costs associated with being vacated.  With regard to 239 Banker Street, I cannot say whether they will be covered by the Loft Law.  (As the law stands presently, no. — Ed. Note) However, when the building was vacated in 2009, many tenants suddenly lost their living spaces as well as thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits.  I do not want to see a repeat of that event.  I will work to ensure that all building code issues at 239 Banker are addressed, but I hope to avoid seeing another vacate order if possible.  All I can do is try to spread the word about the Loft Law…

3bunkbeds

216siegelstreet

…so that tenants in such spaces can apply for coverage that they may be legally entitled to.  Of course, the Loft Board will make final determinations about each application individually.

When queried about the rather notorious property that is the former “Sweater Factory Lofts” last November by the New York Times, Mr. Levin had nothing to say. In the meantime the owner(s) of this illegal loft conversion are getting $2,700 – $3,400 month in rent— and, no, the living conditions are not so hot the last I heard


The former “tenant” of this “room” (which I can assure you is QUITE illegal) paid $925.00 a month. Loft law application FAIL.

239 Banker Street: $15,000 in Stop Work Order Fines & Counting!

October 3, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

I know what some of you are asking:

Why do you have such a big problem with 239 Banker Street?

Well, among other things:

1. Using the pretext of “Loft Law” protection (which was ostensibly put in place to preserve “our” artistic community) for “lofts” sporting stainless steel appliances and $2,700+ rent is laughable— and hypocritical.

2. Claiming that this measure protects “families” from being displaced, and the “Community Organizer” seemingly responsible for this loft law application seems to be under this impression, is wretchedly comical. From what I have been told, families are actually being steered away from this property (which is in and of itself illegal). What’s more, windows upon windows of identical “loft beds” do not exactly inspire confidence that this is a family friendly place.

3bunkbeds

Rather, it screams “college dormitory”.

3. Let us consider this complaint, shall we?

Had these fellows simply perused Craigslist they would know there’s plenty going on. No inspection required!

Methinks the better questions are:

  • Why was the above-listed advertisement for the former “Sweater Factory Lofts” listed as 245 Banker Street  as opposed to 239 Banker Street?
  • Why so many others have had a problem with 239 Banker Street?

(Those of you have patience and wherewithal can view the rest of this litany of complaints by clicking here.)

  • And why our City Councilman, who did not even reside in Greenpoint (or the 33rd City Council District for that matter) when this shit show started, saw fit to email me about it?

In closing, and for everyone’s edification, I have complied a photo set highlighting the immaculate construction of 239 Banker Street. Without further ado, here it is. Enjoy!

  • NYS Flickr Pool

    Brooklyn Sweet Spot Open Sorry for the InconvenienceFort Washington Collegiate Church
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